Real Life

New Year’s Reflections

2015 is ending and it’s been a year.

I feel like at the end of every year I wearily sit down by some sort of writing implement and say, “It’s been a year,” with subsequent guilt that it’s been a normal year and I’m making a big deal out of nothing.

I don’t think I’m at a place to give an overall grade or to sum up the year as “all good” or “all bad” or “mostly good with notes of cherry and aged oak.”

However, there have been definite ups and downs that I can easily identify, good things often happening alongside not-so-nice ones. And what better way to analyze them than in list format?

  1. I made new friends
    I found “my people” early on in my college career and had the intent to coast during my senior year. Long story short: I failed. People kept sitting by me in classes and talking to me, for some reason. They wouldn’t leave me to my self-imposed exile.
    This ended up being for the better because I met fellow writers. I don’t have a lot of friends who write, so meeting writers was groundbreaking. Here were people who took more than just a passing interest in my work. Here were people who could see good in my stuff when I couldn’t. Here were people who knew concretely how I could improve my ideas. I’m a better writer and happier person because of them.
  2. I stayed single
    I’m sitting here now thinking that might not be such a bad thing. I rarely feel this way all the time.
    I get in this cycle of self-doubt that’s hard to shake when things don’t work out for me. I’m slowly–sloooowly–learning my worth doesn’t depend on what other people think of me. My two lowest points were a study in contrasts: Rejection #1 led to me wondering if I would ever be wanted. I bounced back quicker after Rejection #2, but I was a whole lot angrier. People have this annoying habit of not choosing what I think is the best thing for them.
  3. I graduated
    And I feel weird about it. I don’t want to downplay the accomplishment: I worked really hard, finished in four years, and did it without burning out, and that is worthy of celebration. It didn’t feel like a big spectacle, though. People came at me like, “WOW! You DID it! Look at YOU! This is the most significant achievement you’ve made THUS FAR!” and I didn’t agree. There were other things I did this year, other steps and changes I made, that were more meaningful to me. Graduating was just another one of those steps. Also, peoples’ awe rubbed me the wrong way. Yeah, I know I did it; I’ve been putting in the work for four years. This is the result of not skipping class and/or getting blackout drunk every weekend.
  4. I moved back home
    This is one of those things I don’t mind in theory but still get defensive about. My answer to everyone’s questions about my future plans has been, “I don’t know.” Even when I have a concrete plan (I don’t. I really don’t.), people ask when that’s going to happen.
    The answer is not now. I live in my hometown with my family and I work at a bakery. I’m working on my writing and enjoying any time off I get (hint: not very much) and making money and buying music and not working on my five-year-plan, thank you very much.
  5. I stayed in touch with my friends
    If this doesn’t sound significant to you, you don’t know my track record. It’s very unusual for me to maintain friendships past a certain point. I still talk to people from a town I no longer live in. MATURITY.
  6. I grew spiritually
    My Ellensburg community was a big part of my spiritual growth for the last four years. The most growth I had this year, though, was leaving them behind. Up until then, I’d relied a lot on other people and not much on God because I trusted them more than I trusted Him. This summer, I had to face my fears about the future without those people. I still have to talk myself out of this negative attitude where I think God is against me. He is for me, He has good plans, and He doesn’t need me to have a five-year-plan. He just wants me to trust Him.
  7. I got a real job
    It’s not a long-term career. It’s not a job in the publishing industry (which I DO NOT WANT, so please stop suggesting that, casual acquaintances.) It is using my skills and paying me pretty well. It has variety and steady hours and people I like. This job is evidence that God is working because a position I never considered fits me so well. Meanwhile, I write during my breaks and after my shift and at night and whenever I can, and that’s how I like it.
  8. I was really creative
    As in, the most I’ve been in a long time. I tried slam poetry (and succeeded, oddly enough.) I started this blog. I wrote (and deleted, and rewrote) a story with friends. I journal my ideas now. Because I no longer have papers and homework and deadlines, I can write whatever I want whenever I want and consequently I have all these ideas that I’m pumped about.
    I’m not looking for a “real” writing job; this is it.
  9. I found a new church
    This might not sound like a big deal to some of you, but I found a church I like with great music and teaching that has services early enough that I can get to work on time on Sundays. That’s a miracle
  10. I didn’t think I’d still be transitioning
    Six months post-grad, I covet my days off and rarely want to spend time with friends, which makes it hard to find and maintain community, but there are people I have to visit, which means shifting schedules and working nine days straight for a three-day-weekend, and then I miss church and occasionally Bible study and I stop talking to people altogether, and holy cow I don’t have my life figured out yet.
    I didn’t expect to still be figuring things out now. That was the hardest realization of 2015: I’m not where I expected to be. I have lots of time to work out how I’m going to live and there’s no time limit other than the one I’ve placed on myself, but I want to be successful NOW. I cringe at the thought of doing the exact same things a year from now only because I can’t foresee all the ways I’ll have changed by then. I felt the same way last December, and the one before that, because I’m a slow learner: I have NO idea what will happen next year. And that freaks me out.

Can we all skip our New Year’s parties and form a scared huddle? Strangely, New Year’s is my favorite holiday because it offers a fresh start. Here I am, whining about what I can’t see while I celebrate change. Change is scary, change is coming, change will shake up your life, and yet it’s what I want. Here’s to change, growth, and better things in 2016. Amen.

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